Graduation season is in full swing. Whether you are attending a high school or college graduation, you will undoubtedly have the pleasure of listening to a myriad of speeches. Regardless of who the speaker is or what their background, you will hear phrases like finding your path, making an impact, leaving things better than you found them, and whatever you do, be passionate about it. Passion is a sentiment that I love but I find that passion alone isn’t all that unique or special today. Many people are passionate about what they do. That, in and of itself, doesn’t make them special. Don’t get me wrong, passion is fantastic; it motivates people to reach higher and accomplish more. Lately though, I realized that I’m looking for something more; that I want to see something done with all that passion. Inspiration. Inspiration is a game changer for me. Passion by itself is internal; inspiration is external. Inspiration brings passion to the next level.
When I first sat down to write this it was just about passion. Then I got to thinking about people that I have met. People that embody passion and also inspire others. Over the years, I have met so many of them, I would need a book to regale you with their stories. Narrowing it down, I settled on two people. The first is an individual unto himself and the other really represents one woman amongst a whole group of people that I get to work with on a regular basis. Make no mistake she is unique and extraordinary as are a number of others in the field of higher education.
Travis Roy has a story that many are familiar with. He was a Boston University Hockey player that during his first shift on the ice for BU, crashed, head first, into the boards and was left a quadriplegic from a spinal cord injury. Being a collegiate level athlete and having that passion taken from you, would leave most people wallowing in despair and depression, looking around and asking why me? Not Travis. The part of his tale that you many may not be familiar with is that he has taken his story, and the notoriety that came with it, on the road to educate people and raise money to find a cure for spinal cord injury. There is little to no chance that the progress being made will positively impact him personally, but that makes no difference. I see him once or twice a year at functions, but every time I do see him, he inspires me by how upbeat and positive he always is. You get the sense that he believes this has all happened to him for a reason, that his mission or true calling is to be an inspiration for others – and he absolutely is.
My client base here at FUN is predominantly colleges and I have the privilege of working with some incredible role models. In this case, a mentor who inspire students on a daily basis. It is hard to single out one from this group, but recently I saw something that I couldn’t ignore. Dean College has been a client for years. In April I was there for an Accepted Students Day and spoke to two students from their programming board. Both of them told me that when they graduated next year they planned to go to grad school for higher education. Over the years, Dean has put a few students into the field, but I can never recall a time when they had two at the same time from the same class pursuing this career path. My conversations with the two women (Lauren and Jackie) were held at separate times during the day and not within earshot of the other. Both cited Christina Frugale as a significant reason for wanting to go into the field. What really made me sit up and take notice was that a year earlier Jackie had come to our office for a focus group and was very reserved. The young lady that I spoke with in April was far more confident, charismatic, and vocal. Although she never said it directly, I honestly believe that Christina had a direct impact with her transformation. What Christina has done for these two young woman in showing her passion for her work inspired them both enough to want to do the same.
Take time to reflect on those who have inspired and mentored you. Perhaps take a minute and drop them a note to thank them. My list of mentors is long and continues to grow, some of them are from long ago and some just recently. Without them my life would be far less interesting and a lot less fulfilling. Passion on its own is good, but add in inspiration and it is a game changer. Thanks to all who inspire others.